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Bay-Atlantic: The Little Symphony That Could

Bay-Atlantic Symphony Executive Director Clarena Snyder and Music Director Jed Gaylin.
Bay-Atlantic Symphony Executive Director Clarena Snyder and Music Director Jed Gaylin.

While many or the nation's major orchestras continue to struggle financially, smaller community and regional orchestras are flourishing. Jeff Lunden profiles southern New Jersey's Bay-Atlantic Symphony.

Jack McAuliffe, vice president of the American Symphony Orchestra League, tells Lunden that every state is home to five or six regional orchestras. Each group, he says, is "often the cultural heart of the community -- that’s why the community will keep it at almost any cost. And the costs are not great."

McAuliffe points out that the Philadelphia Orchestra has an annual budget of $38.6 million. Bay-Atlantic puts on 26 concerts a year for about $500,000.

The secret the Bay-Atlantic Symphony's success could be the lack of cultural competition in southern rural New Jersey. But Bay-Atlantic executive director Clarena Snyder and music director Jed Gaylin know the real secret is a highly dedicated ensemble of freelance musicians who make up the orchestra.

Among them are five married couples, and many have been with the orchestra for more than a decade.

Snyder is proud of her small orchestra and the music it presents. "There isn't a lot of polish or packaging. It's just the music speaking."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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